According to several insiders familiar with Apple, whose products are exhibited at Portable Audio Festival, Apple has been developing hi-res audio streaming up to 96kHz/24-bit in 2016.
By way of comparison, CDs offer 44kHz/16-bit. The sources cited appear to be manufacturers making Lightning-based headphones, which would support the hi-res format. It should be noted, however, that Apple has been sourcing at least some of its music at 96kHz/24-bit for many years …
Apple first started asking music labels to supply the high-resolution audio files almost four years ago, for its Mastered for iTunes albums. At that time, Apple was then doing its own encoding to a lower-resolution format. The company said at the time that it had an eye to rolling out higher-resolution versions at a later date.
Keeping the highest quality masters available in our systems allows for full advantage of future improvements to your music.
It was suggested last year that Apple was planning to release at least some albums in 96kHz/24-bit form later the same year, with Macotakara lending its support for the rumor a month later.
There have also been long-running suggestions that Apple plans to ditch the 3.5mm audio jack in favor of Lightning, the latest of them once more from Macotakara. In our own poll, the majority of you expected Apple to go this route.